46 years in Cromarty means that I'm more-or-less accepted as a local. I'm rapidly building the sort of recognition which will soon make me eligible to be regarded as one of the town's more promising new 'eccentrics'.
Whether it's 500w halogen garden floodlights bathing the neighbours' property or streets indiscriminately, glyphosate being sprayed carelessly and indiscriminately and turning the wild flowers and roadsides a charming shade of bright dayglo orange, boy-racers pounding endlessly around the tiny streets in their go-faster hatchbacks, pick-up trucks being left thoughtlessly with their engines running for 15 minutes or more outside the local mini-market, or the propensity for otherwise respectable and upstanding members of the local community to burn their plastic boat on the beach, I will usually find something to irritate me in everyday life in this wee Highland town.
Sadly, most of the town's finest old eccentrics are no more. Nellie Love, Miss Barnes and her dachshunds, Danny 'Poach', Jimmy 'Mallaig', John Bain Duncan and many other local characters have gone the way of all flesh. But a new cohort is preparing to take office, and I stand ready and able at the forefront of the new generation to take my rightful place - sceptic, eco-moan and general busybody.
My parents started the Cromarty Pottery here in 1965 and, since they retired, it is now run by my wife Bärbel who was born in Hamburg. We live with our two cats, 5 chickens, several frogs and toads, and a compost heap - oh, and my mother-in-law, of course - 100 yards from the Plexus office. Just far enough away to be able to relax properly away fromt the computer, and nearer my home iMac, iPad and iPod. Oh, well.
One of the main advantages of living and working in Cromarty is that I don't have to commute at all. Garve moved to Kessock a few years ago and drives 20 miles to work each day. Turncoat! He does car-share with Jamie, however.
Though we do try to operate a green and 'paperless' office (well, just me, really), when I see the wastebaskets stuffed with paper, and the office window wide open whilst the convector heater munches its way relentlessly through 3 kilowatts of environment-costly electricity, I do despair.
But, seriously, folks ...
As an extension of my interest in waste minimisation and ecological issues, I manage a web site which helps highlight the plight of the African Wild Dog and aids others in making donations to conservation projects. I've also been managing a new website for Painted Dog Conservation UK, which is a UK-based charity targeted at raising funds to support Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe.
Currently there are more than 1,500,000 people on this planet for every African Wild Dog left alive. Once widespread across Africa, the Wild Dog is down to it's last 4,000 spread across 5 African countries, whilst we swarm and multiply like there's no tomorrow - as indeed there may not be if we don't become more responsible. Despite their best efforts to resist trapping, fencing, snaring, poisoning, and becoming roadkill, the Wild Dog is on the brink of going out with a whimper. And though many might think we'll follow along shortly with a bang, it seems more likely we will simply drown in the rising tide of waste that we generate.
It's long past time for us to take responsibility for the impact that we have on our world and on the other species that we share it with.
If you'd like to learn more about the African Wild Dog, and how you can help to prevent it's extinction, please visit my Save the African Wild Dog site.
The Cold Light of Day . . .and the 'orrible orange glow at night.
A few years ago I had a bit of a run-in with my next door neighbour. He'd fitted a 500 watt halogen 'rottweiler' insecurity floodlight at the back of his house, tilting it up above the horizontal (contrary to the fitting instructions and the Institution of Lighting Engineers recommendations) so that it would light his garden, our garden, the other houses beyond our garden, the car park behind our local Londis store, a nearby area of wild plants, and around 1/4 of the rest of the town.
This type of light fitting creates nearly ten times the light of a car headlight on full beam, and is half as powerful as the brightest lighthouse in the UK!
Cunningly, it was set-up to be triggered by a 'PIR' motion detector mounted, you guessed it, beside the exhaust of his central heating boiler. Result? The light typically cycled on and off every 5 minutes all night. Fortunately, after several months of negotiation, he was persuaded to change it for 2 lower wattage PIR bulhead lamps. Not great lights from the light pollution perspective, but at least not triggered by the central heating.
No surprise, then, that I've become rather interested in the issue of light pollution, and the despoliation of the night sky by the glow emanating from every community. I've set up an Outdoor Lighting Reviews site, and hopefully this will help others find better light fittings, and encourage more responsible lighting. There is a better way of using lighting when it's really needed. See my review site - Dark Sky Lighting UK site.
Ripped Off by Zoodex on Ebay
As an avid user of Ebay, most of my transactions have been pretty smooth. However, there has been the occasional one that's gone sour, and one of these was when I bought a CD player from a company called called Zoodex (Mopodo Ltd). I got ripped-off, and wrote up a little essay about it to help others avoid burnt fingers. See our BAD page for the full story.
What's that 'orrible Racket . .
Dave's Rants - Mindless Throwaway Music, the word 'cool', TV News, the word 'entrepreneur, Planning Regulations, and more.
Colin's Rants - Leaf Blowers, Sports Exhausts, DVD Players, and other irritations.
Garve's Rants - Weather presenters and their misuse of the English language.
Jamie's Rants - Coming Soon. Promise
Gill's Rants - Coming Soon, if she can but overcome her natural modesty and retiring nature.
The website is working very well and I have had many compliments on it, and, more important, an increasing number of enquiries, sales and visitors to the gallery as a direct result. Everyone is saying how straightforward it is to navigate. Thank you indeed for doing such a good job and being so efficient, and easy and pleasant to work with!